Monday, June 27, 2011

Mile 256.5 - Days 20 - 22

The trail has definitely beaten us up these past few days!! We have been with Fire Marshall since we left Rangeley and we all agree we are ready to get out of Maine.



As if the bogtastic bogs were not bad enough on their own, the mass amount of rainfall we got made them so much worse. The trail is wet, wet, wet. Which makes it slick, slick, slick. We fall like it is our business. There was one day that Deal fell 5 times!! To say he wasn't a happy hiker is an understatement!






This morning, Fire Marshall declared he was going to hike a short day and go to the hostel in Andover, ME. Deal & I debated the whole way whether we should follow or not. The thing is, the last 25 miles of Maine are going to be difficult. And we were planning a short day anyways. So why not take a short day and hit a town??? These damn hostels are just too appealing with their showers, laundry and good town food!



So, let me recap the last 3 days ...

We drank water (which we treated with our awesome new filter) that was a lovely shade of yellow.

We slipped on rocks, broken bog bridges, tree roots, mud piles ... Why even bother doing laundry?


We went up and over a number of butt-kicking mountains at the end of the day, which required the motivation of our I-pods.

We saw 2 moose off the trail! They were too far for a good picture, but a good memory.



We weighed ourselves at the hostel and both lost 13 pounds! I do believe our hiker appetite has finally kicked in because we have been hungrier and hungrier in the past few days.



We had 2 detours on the trail and they sucked BIG time. Deal thinks maybe some kindergarteners re-routed the trail because surely the ME AT club wouldn't put hikers through such shenanigans. A NOBO advised us to take the blue detour (Moody Mtn) instead of the orange one that the sign said. Thank the good lord we did or else we would have gone straight down a landslide!


Anyways, we are enjoying another night in town where we can dry out and prepare for the last 25 miles of Maine! We have one section coming up on Wednesday called Mahoosuc Notch and it has the reputation of being the "hardest mile on the trail" because of all the bouldering you have to do. PLEASE send good weather vibes our way!



Location:Pine St,,United States

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mile 220 - Days 17 - 19

Greetings from Rangeley, ME! We are in the process of receiving the best trail magic evah! Remember I mentioned we've been hiking and camping on and off with a fellow SOBO Fire Marshall? For the past few days, he has been 1 day ahead of us. His family came up from VA to vacation in Rangeley and he of course wanted to meet them. We talked about maybe catching up to him in Rangeley, but didn't make set plans. Well, today we came off the trail looking and smelling like sewer rats and attempted (unsuccessfully) to hitchhike into Rangeley (no cell service of course). A car pulls up and it's a friend of Fire Marshall's family. She said she'll call him and tell him to come pick us up ... Not only did he pick us up, but he told us his parents insisted we stay at the house with his whole family!!! We tried to say no, but the offer was too good to pass up ... It gets better. We got to the house, showered, did laundry and they invited us for a DELICIOUS smorgasbord, complete with chicken, fish, pasta salad, beans ... Did I mention his family is in the restaurant business? So we are basically on cloud 9. Got to love Southern hospitality!!



Now onto trail updates ...

We are 10% done with the trail!!! Or as Deal would say, we only have 90% left ...

In the past few days, the weather definitely took a turn for the worst. They say the rain in Maine is a pain. Okay, maybe they don't say that, but it seems right. Not to mention we've traversed over 10,000 feet of elevation change, including climbing up Maine's largest ski area Sugarloaf (it was biotch to climb).

On Thursday, we got to a lean-to around 2ish and decided to just hunker down because the rain was so bad. We had a huge mountain range with 3 miles of above-treeline ridge walking (Saddleback Mtn) coming up and the signs warned not to attempt in bad weather ... Well we awoke this morning to the same conditions. We decided to attempt the trek. We are used to being in bad weather on mountains and at least there wasn't any lightning (That only happens when we hike with our friend Bolt).










So we hiked up the range and it was as terrible as we imagined it would be. Pelting hail that has left indentations on the left side of our faces, 70+ MPH wind gusts ... It took everything in me to stay upright. But, we survived. We do have a lot of guardian angels looking out for us!

Another funny story ... On Wednesday night, I was just about asleep, when Deal woke me up because he said there were bunnies outside of the lean-to. I thought it was the Advil PM daze, until I sat up and realized he was in an intense staring contest with a bunny on steroids. No, seriously, the bunny's paws were the size of Connecticut. And his eyes were a deep shade of red popping out of his head. It was one of the most surreal moments in my life. We thought we were in Alice's Wonderland. Side note ... We later found out that these are the immense snowshoe hares of Maine that often feast on thru hikers. Not sure why we were spared ...



More rain for the next couple of days, but at least we are dry for now! Thanks again for all the comments and e-mails ... I hope to actually return some messages one of these days ... Internet time is extremely limited!

PS - we are thinking of you Rec Committee as you prepare for the big 4th of July event!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mile 187.8 - Days 13-16

The last update I gave you was from the Northern Outdoors Center, where we hobnobbed with some NOBOs and enjoyed the center's luxuries. We even ran into some friends from NH (Grant and Jill who run Untamed New England Adventure Race). They gave us a dose of trail magic by picking up our tab at the bar!!! (did I mention there was a brewery there?)

On Sunday morning, we took the official canoe shuttle across the Kennebunk River at 9 and started following the white blazes again.









The last few days, the weather has been fantastic with nice breezes and less bugs (except of course when you stop moving and they swarm you). We have gone over some of Maine's bigger mountains (we have three 4,000 footers today!), so the terrain has definitely changed from the boggy mess (with the exception of one section where we crossed a crazy damn that was a little scary - see below).













Another highlight is that we attacked by a territorial grouse trying to protect her young!

Also, we hit the 2,000 mile marker, meaning we have less than 2,000 miles left! Today we should hit 200 miles, meaning Maine is almost over.



Last night, we spent the night at a hostel in Stratton as a last-minute decision at the road crossing. So many NOBOs recommended it. Glad we stopped because as with the hostel in Monson, the lady is selling and we are already dreaming!



We did get some sad news the other day that our fellow SOBO Overload had to get off the trail because part of his toe fell off!!! It is a bummer because we enjoyed hiking and camping with him on and off. There are about 10ish SOBOs that we have met and some of them have already gotten off the trail ... One guy (Fire Marshall) is still in front of us (we think) and 2 other guys (Lexus and FootZ) are 1 day behind us. By the way, these are all trail names and hopefully I will explain them someday!

Also not sure if this posted the other day, but we will be arriving to our next mail drop - Pinkham Notch - earlier than we expected. So if you were planning to send anything via regular mail, do it by June 23. Our ETA is July 3.

Location:Carrabassett Rd,Stratton,United States

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mile 151.2 - Days 11-13

Hello from the Northern Outdoors Center in The Forks, ME (population 31), where there is no cell service, but there is free wireless!

Three days ago, we left the luxuries of Monson. We had a mail drop to pick up in Caratuck, so we had a choice. We could either hoof it in 3 days to make it to the post office by the time it closed Sat morning at 11:15, or we could take our time and make it by the time it opened Monday at 7:15 am. We decided to take the slow route ... until we started hiking out of Monson.

We made it an easy 9 miles to our camping spot by lunch time! Plus, our friend Fire Marshall Mac that we have been hiking with since the beginning was doing a push for 18 miles that day. Being we felt good that day and the trail was pretty easy (despite a terrible bogtastic reroute of the trail due to beaver activity and 3 river crossings), we pressed on. We ended up tenting at the Moxie Bald Lean-To with a beautiful view and a great cool-down in the lake (who needs showers??)


The 18 miles really didn't feel like 18 miles, I swear.

So then Friday we did 13 miles. Those 13 miles actually felt more like 18 miles ... Probably has something to do with the mountains thrown in there, the heat, and the redunkulous bugs. Plenty more of that to come!

So today, we planned an early wake up (6ish) to hike the 6ish mile to the post office. Well, between the damn bugs (we slept in the shelter with head nets on) and a very loud sheltermate, we were up and out of there by 6!

Anyways, we made it to the PO with plenty of time to spare and then headed over to our "lodging" for the night (a canvas tent) at the Northern Outdoors center. We have once again showered, laundered clothes and ate real food! We will head out early tomorrow to catch the canoe "ferry" across the Kennebec River that only runs from 9-11am (they don't allow you to cross it on foot since too many people died or almost died trying).

As for my wildlife report, we still haven't seen an alive moose on the trail, but we saw a carcass! We also saw a porcupine (I was too startled and too slow to get a picture).


I also forgot to mention that thanks to Paul (AKA Second Nature - never said in my last post that he did the AT in 1998) & Kristen, I can identify 2 plants...lady slippers and trillium. That is the extent of my knowledge ... It's just a tunnel of green!

Well, I think that's all I have to say for now. Happy Father's Day to all the men in our life and Happy Birthday to SILAdventure ... I don't think we'll have cell service to call! Keep the comments coming ... They really help!



Location:The Forks,United States

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mile 114.5 - Days 1-10 Part Dos

The laundry is done and we are ready to hit the trail early tomorrow morning with clean clothes, clean bodies and full bellies.









Monson has been a blast. Trail towns can definitely reel you in with their super hospitality and local culture. We are here with 5 other SOBOs we've been hiking on and off with (see, we aren't the only crazy ones!)





Anyways, back to the last 10 days...

The trail in Maine has been pretty awesome. We just love the serenity and remoteness you find here. Aside from the bugs, bogtastic bogs (think thick mud) and occasional trees down in the middle of the trail, the Maine AT Club does a fantastic job of maintaining the trail. Here are some pictures of what the trail looks like:






























We have also forded (crossed) 7 rivers. I was most nervous about that, but I actually enjoy it!! And for me and my "Steadee"
self, it is much better than rock hopping!



For the record, I have only fallen 3 times (not in the rivers, just on stupid rocks and tree roots). Deal has only fallen once in comparison.

Now onto bathroom talk. The outhouses have been decent and I have only had to dig one hole ... To do bizness... Deal has dug 3! Don't worry, we'll keep a count for you.








Lastly, no exciting wildlife to report. Lots of moose poop, but the only time we saw one was when we were driving into Baxter State Park to start. Lots of toads, 3 loons, 2 snakes, and what we thought was a grouse but others said was a partridge??

Okay, gotta go to bed ... Way past our bedtime. THANK YOU all again for all the comments on the blog, facebook, e-mails, texts, etc! We can't get back to everyone, but we are loving the love! Keep em coming and we will update soon!

Oh, one last thing. I did update our Flckr album on the sidebar of the blog, so if you want more pictures (especially of our gross feet), check it out. I didn't label them yet though.

Location:S Main St,Monson,United States

AT Mile 114.5 - Days 1-10

We are currently in Monson, ME, taking a near-zero (nero) day at Shaw's Lodging, an awesome hiker hostel. We have showered, eaten and are now catching up with the outside world. First of all, we want to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, text messages, voice mails, letters, etc. We have had a great time and it's awesome to know we have a support team!

Without further ado, I present you with a summary of our last 10 days.

The last shower we took was on June 5. Today is June 15. That is a very long time to go without a shower, let me tell you!

We summited Katahdin on June 6, as planned. It was a beautiful, clear day with temps in the high 50s at the top. Couldn't ask for a better start to our trip





Paul and Kristen were super trail angels and got us up to Baxter State Park (Katahdin) safe and sound. Then they hiked with us for 5 days (59.7 miles of the AT, plus the extra 5.2 miles up Katahdin). We absolutely LOVED having their company and they are stellar hiking partners helping us push our limits. They really brought the good weather too because the rain didn't start until they left!




Our schedule usually goes something like this:
Wake up between 6 and 7 (although the sun comes up at 4:30ish!). Hike anywhere from 11 to 16 miles, which takes us anywhere from 8 hours to 12 hours. When we get to camp for the evening, we do our chores: cook dinner, set up tent, purify water, hang food bag ... It's just a regular work day for us! We are usually asleep between 8 and 9. We have stayed in our tent most nights, but usually it's near a shelter, and more importantly, a privy. Here are some pix of our campsites.





 

We are no longer Justin and Patrice! We officially have trail names! J is Deal; if you know him, you can guess the origin of that name. He never pays full price for anything!! And he loves to tell people about his "deals." Plus, Deal is a Grateful Dead song, so perfecto! As for me, I am Steadee. This is because I have a pretty steady approach to hiking ... My pace is slow and steady, especially on the uphill, downhill and on rocks. Okay, pretty much all the time! And I am spelling it with 2 es because I like to be different.









The buzzing in my ears has finally stopped. What buzzing you ask? The blood-sucking mosquitoes! They have declared a war on the human race in Maine and have asked the black flies and no-see-ums to join their army. Seriously, you can play a mean game of connect the dots on our bodies and come up with some pretty pictures. We have doused ourselves in Deet and wear headnets/goretex all the time, but they find a way to skin.

Okay, more to come later...must take care of town chores, like washing our stinky clothes!



Location:Tenney Hill Rd,Monson,United States